Thursday, 8 February 2018

What's in a name or a nationality?

Flags of the Union Jack
By Guilherme Paula [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In an earlier post this week I referred to "GB interest" in the Winter Olympics which start tomorrow.

I realise now that this could be confusing, especially if you're not familiar with the abbreviation GB and don't know it stands for Great Britain.  My pedantic husband would have pointed out that I should have put "Great Britain (GB)" so that it was clear what I meant.

I suppose it doesn't help that Team GB, as the British Olympic team tends to be known, doesn't actually convey the correct meaning. Great Britain only includes includes England, Scotland and Wales. 

Most people probably know that UK means United Kingdom.  What many won't know is that its full title is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  In the Olympics our team can consist of sportsmen and women from all four countries.  I suspect that in the opening ceremony the team will be announced as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but I'm not sure I'll be waiting and watching to check! 

And just to add further confusion, in the Commonwealth games the four nations send separate teams!  That also applies to the Football World Cup, except that often not all four countries get through the qualifying rounds to reach the final stage.

The images above show how the flags of the respective countries of England & Scotland were combined and then the insignia of the Order of St. Patrick added to produce the United Kingdom flag known as the Union Jack.*

Do I consider myself British?  Of course.  That's what my passport says but I'm also English due to my birthplace with a bit of Welsh thrown in from my Dad and who knows what else if I went back a few generations.

Hmm I'm not sure if I've clarified my shorthand or muddied the waters even more.   But I will be watching out for Team GB in the Winter Olympics over the next couple of weeks. 

* If you want to know why there isn't a Welsh component to the Union Jack don't ask me ask Google!


  1. Wendy, that was very interesting and you did clarify it for me! I'm happy to know the differences between GB and UK (I know what both stand for, but not how the countries work within). Thanks!!

  2. Well done Wendy. It is very confusing to many people both within the UK and outside.

  3. You know I never knew that there was a "Great Britain" for us it was England in all languages ! Even today if you ask a Belgian on the street he would speak about England and that there is also Wales and Scotland and Northern Island, that does matter. England is England, lol !

  4. When I came the first time to Eastbourne there were flags hanging out all with a red cross (the first one on your picture) and I thought there was something going on for the Red Cross but it was the English flag for a football game ! My friend explained that to me, and that was in 2008 !! Imagine !

  5. We do like to confuse people. And as a PS the team were introduced as Great Britain.


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